Crafting your hobby into a business

Sarah Lauren owner Janine EvansThis week Cas talked to Janine Evans, owner of Sarah Lauren, who keeps crafters happy with her constant supply of beautiful ribbons. Janine talks about growing your hobby into a business and shares some valuable insights on what it means to be a WAHP.

Tell us a little about the person behind the business?

My name is Janine. I am a wife and mother of two gorgeous girls who loves any type of craft. I took sewing lessons when I was 13 at the local Justknits store and I have completed many cross stitch pictures. About nine years ago, when I had trouble finding nice clips and accessories for my hair, I began to make my own Swarovski Crystal clips. Not long after, I started to make bows out of grosgrain ribbon.

And now a little about the business itself?

Sarah Lauren began as Pretty Beaded Things. I was selling my crystal clips and beaded jewellery and started to add a few bows to the website. 

I found that there were very few suppliers in Australia of good quality supplies. So everything had to come from the US or Hong Kong. 

Waiting for suppliers is the bane of any crafter so I started buying in bulk. Like most people I prefer to have everything at hand. About two years ago I realised there was a huge increase in women making hair accessories and that we were all waiting for our packages of supplies.

 The exchange rate was around 64 cents in the dollar. Shipping was always expensive because the parcels were often heavy. I wondered if I sold supplies whether anyone would support a local supplier.

 I started listing some of my over-supply on my Pretty Beaded Things site. I knew I would have to reinvent my business. Sarah Lauren started to emerge.

Lollypop pink ribbon 9mmHow did you come up with your business name?

I wanted a business name that could fit with my business but also grow with it. I also wanted it to be easy to remember. I really loved my daughters’ middle names. My oldest daughter’s middle name is Sarah and my younger daughter’s is Lauren. Hence, Sarah Lauren was born, so to speak.

What made you want to begin a WAH business and how did you get started?

After my eldest daughter was born I did not return to work. I wanted to stay home with my children. Being a crafty person, I was always making something. I was making beaded items. Like all crafters I made more than I could use myself, so started to sell different things on e-bay. This lead into party plans and markets. I never really tried to start a business, just continue a hobby that continues to grow.

What inspires you to keep your business going?

I love chatting to crafters. This business gives me the best of both worlds. I can continue doing what a love whilst talking to other crafters. I love sourcing new supplies and being able to bring them to my customers. Some of which have now become my friends.

Do you have a current best-selling product or service? If yes, tell us about it.

Our best selling product is our grosgrain ribbon which we have in over 140 shades in various widths ranging from 6mm to 75mm. Special colour and size orders can also be arranged. We also have a huge range of metal clips and headbands and artificial flowers used in all types of crafts including hair accessories.

How do you advertise your business and which methods have proven more successful?

Up until four months ago my website and contacting potential customers directly via FB and SEO were my only marketing. I was contacted by Handmade Magazine to write tutorials/projects and to advertise with them. I now advertise in a handful of craft magazines.

I believe SEO is paramount for online selling. My magazine advertising is directed at crafters who like to buy magazines but who may not necessarily use Facebook.

How do you juggle your family and your WAH business? Any tips for other WAHPs?

I find being a WAHP can be very difficult. You have to learn to say “no” to people wanting you to donate your time on a continual basis. Some think that because you are “at home” you don’t have anything to do. Thankfully, that perception is changing.

I love having the opportunity to move work around so I can attend school events or take my children to after school activities. If that means I have to work late because I spent the day at the school Tuckshop or running the school’s Mother’s and Father’s days stalls then that is what I do.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a WAH business?

Do something you really like doing. I am a hands on learner. Some people are book learners. Work out which one you are and do your research. If there are plenty of businesses that do a similar thing then make yours stand out.

Pricing is important. Consider everything you use and the time involved, including e-mails and invoicing. Busy is good but if you are spending most nights and/or weekends away from your family then you need to re-consider how you are doing. There is no point being busy if it you miss out on spending time with you family and enjoying the rest of your life.

Name Janine Evans
Email janine at sarahlauren.com.au
Business Name Sarah Lauren
Website URL http://www.sarahlauren.com.au
Facebook URL https://www.facebook.com/SarahLaurenAust
Location Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Cas McCullough About Cas McCullough

Author, speaker, activist and prolific blogger Cas McCullough empowers women as mothers through her startup Mumatopia, and she empowers women solo business owners (and a few enlightened men) to drop the sales pitch and harness the power of content marketing through her Content Marketing Cardiology program. Cas is the author of Diving In: Practical tips for starting up and growing your home based business and writes a regular column on home based startups for www.startupsmart.com.au. Find Cas on Google+